The Market Marker
Charlie is a 34 year-old New Zealander who gives lie to the notion that all the major traders on Betfair are nerdish mathematicians immersed in algorithms and intricate software development.
Not that there isn’t a growing level of strategic investment and sophistication to Charlie’s approach but he would still describe himself as having an old school outlook. “I’m 80% a form punter, backing my judgement for the most part. I’d imagine that among Betfair’s younger customers I’m probably as old school as you can get,” he said.
An old style form based approach is hardly a shock coming from someone who says, with anything but sheepishness, that he had his first bet earlier than most. “In doing the form I’m still focused on the basics of performance, videos, times, sectionals etc.,” he said.
Charlie has been operating on Betfair for a decade but until very recently that was an adjunct to more mainstream employment in management and journalism. The latter perhaps placing a bit of pressure on this scribe’s ramblings.
“It’s really only in the past few months that I have started to embrace software and various value added programs. I’m really only now coming to terms with the possibilities that Betfair offers and getting to a point where I am using the exchange more effectively,” he said.
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Market Making Strategy
He bets principally on the Australian and New Zealand ‘trots’ along with horse racing and other sporting events which play out over the course of a few days such as golf.
What sets him apart from many Betfair punters is that in many instances, he’s the market maker (setting the market by putting up early win prices in a bid to generate interest and create some liquidity in the pool).
Ironically, he concedes that this has occasionally been to his detriment. “Three times have gone up with win prices on the place market. Ouch,” he said.
“Nevertheless, I’m happy to be driving the trade on these markets. There aren’t many avenues to get a bet on the trots meetings. The tote is weak and you can’t get on fixed odds. Betfair allows me to have greater bets and at better prices, a way to potentially increase my action on the races I want to bet on.
“In most cases, I’m driving the market and when I’ve done a meeting I set a price for every horse in every race with a market more competitive than the totes or corporates,” he said.
Charlie says it’s a diverse group trading into the markets he’s effectively created and driven and therefore, to a large degree, taking on his opinion. “I’d say there’s at least as much action on the New Zealand trot markets from Australia as there is from New Zealand. I don’t have the definitive analysis but I’d suspect it’s a mix of trots punters and connections but also a good percentage of long term Betfair traders who are not necessarily experts on the trots.
“The pools may not be huge but obviously I would like to think that I have a competitive edge, particularly in terms of laying certain horses as I am immersed in the form, that said like any punter I have losing days, my approach is far from perfect” he said.
Market Makers – You Don’t Need a Big Bankroll
Charlie has ownership interests on both sides of the Tasman in harness racing which he describes as the ‘working man’s’ code. “I’ve always loved the trots. It’s not as strong as it once was and breeding numbers are down in New Zealand but we are still managing to produce some very good horses which most racing and trotting fans are aware of,” he said.
The former journalist says that creating a successful, long term betting strategy is a process of evolution and has been ever since his passion was well and truly cemented by a $36,000 Pick 6 win on the New Zealand TAB when he was just old enough to have a bet.
“I’m still coming to terms with all aspects of Betfair. It might take a minute to learn but possibly a lifetime to master. I am sure, though, that you don’t need a massive bank roll. In fact, I think a small bank roll can give you a competitive advantage.
“In terms of betting on sports like golf it’s a matter of straight trading and trading smart. With the trots and the gallops, I’m endeavouring to combine all the basic homework and good judgement with smart trading,” he said.
Charlie adds that a four-day event such as a golf tournament presents trading opportunities which he particularly enjoys.
“The golf provides the opportunity to bet a longer priced winner. You’ll have a longer priced favourite and longer odds in general with the ability to restructure your position as the tournament unfolds. I don’t mind these ‘shorter’ long term events. They’re certainly more desirable than tying up your money for six months in something like an NRL or AFL premiership bet,” he said.
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Improving Your Success Rate
He believes there are a number of approaches the average punter can employ to improve their success rate.
- Record your punting:
“Keep records of your punting, don’t rely on your memory or hunches. Keep as many different kinds of records that you can, your success rate at certain tracks or distances or classes of race. Look for the patterns as to where you’re doing well and where you’re failing.”
- Data is critical:
“I’m a great believer in times and sectionals, especially for the trots. They are, after all, races and fast times generally don’t lie and a good understanding of sectionals certainly helps you in speed mapping a race.”
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- Driver and jockey changes are important:
“To treat them all as the same, irrespective of their records and experience, simply doesn’t make sense. But I think a mistake some people make is to promote a horse ratings wise because it has a top jockey aboard. My word of caution there is that if the same top jockey has been regularly riding the horse, then it’s doubtful he or she is going to ride it any better than they have of late or that the horse is going to suddenly perform better for them.”
- Be mindful of hot and cold stables
“They do have varying runs and if you can predict it early, then you might well be on to something. These runs usually have a start and end point. Keep a look out for the stable which suddenly has a couple of unfancied horses run better than expectations.
“Conversely, you might see a couple of fancied horses run poorly. If I see that, I’ll mark down the whole barn. These runs happen, perhaps it’s a virus in the stable or a change of feed or staff or trying routines. However, it happens, in my experience the hot and cold runs are real and absolutely worth factoring in if and when you perceive it.”